For what its worth, and it’s not very much, Pro Football Focus believes the Pittsburgh Steelers exited this year’s draft as the most-improved team in the AFC North.
Below is what Mike Renner of PFF wrote about the Steelers 2019 draft haul that includes linebacker Devin Bush, wide receiver Diontae Johnson, cornerback Justin Layne and Benny Snell Jr. as the team’s first four of nine total selections.
Pittsburgh made one of the biggest moves of the first round when they moved up for Devin Bush. After Bush and Devin White, there wasn’t a single linebacker in the class that could replicate their ability in coverage. From there, they got two other PFF favorites in Toledo wide receiver Diontae Johnson and Michigan State cornerback Justin Layne. Johnson drew comps to Antonio Brown from a stylistic perspective inside the PFF offices while Layne is much more suited to zone coverage than former first-rounder Artie Burns.
As we have already posted about a few days ago, PFF gave the Steelers an “ABOVE AVERAGE” grade for their 2019 selections. The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, on the other hand, all revived just an “AVERAGE” grade from PFF.
Opinions about drafts and quick grades just days after the selections are made are obviously different from analyst to analyst, however, and there’s no better example of that statement when one looks closely at the PFF grades and then at the draft grade Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network gave the Steelers and the other three teams in the AFC North.
As you can see in the attached video below, Jeremiah and Brooks collectively graded the Steelers 2019 draft a “C+” after first giving the Baltimore Ravens an “A”. They went on to give the Bengals a B for their 2019 draft selections and the Browns a C.
Below is what brooks said about the Steelers 2019 draft class Wednesday night:
“Look, the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to get back to their identity,” Brooks said Wednesday night during the NFL Draft Grades show. “Mike Tomlin was intent on making sure he cleaned out the locker room – get some more of their kind of guys and I think they were able to do that. Made an aggressive move up to get Devin Bush. Devin Bush gives them something they haven’t had since Ryan Shazier had that unfortunate injury, a difference-maker inside. This is a sideline-to-sideline playmaker. A guy that can blitz, he can handle the run game but also can cover. He is everything that you want at the position. And also, their fourth-round pick, Benny Snell, having Benny Snell to be able to come in and jump in their rotation. Look, hes a carbon-copy of James Conner. a physical runner inside. I like it a lot.”
Obviously, these draft grades are just analysis and analysis only and thus we won’t be able to thoroughly know how any team did with their draft selections this year until at least two years from now. It is fun, however, to go back and closely examine how a few national media NFL analysts graded the Steelers previous drafts just days after they took place. Below is what Brooks and a few other NFL Network analysts had to say about the Steelers 2017 draft class. They gave it a “B”, by the way.